Thursday, May 30, 2013

Never Trust A Woman With Three Names

I’m a pretty uncomplicated guy. I enjoy simple things. I’m not a Wine and Filet Mignon kind of guy; I’m more a Fritos and Diet Mt. Dew guy. I try to not hurt people and I try to help people whenever I can. I thank God several times a day for the way He has blessed me and given me more than I could ever need.

I don’t have a lot of rules that I live my life by but I do have one steadfast rule: Never, ever trust a woman with three names.
Now, I have women friends who have three names and they are fine people. Never had a relationship with one. Can't do it. It all comes down to two, fairly simple points:
1). There's the trust issue.
2). I never know what to call a woman who has three names.
If a woman waffles on her name or puts a hyphen in there after she marries, why would you trust her on anything important? She obviously cannot make a decision.

So, unlike many people, I was not surprised in the least when I heard Karen Carter Peterson (see, three names) on the Louisiana Senate floor labeling her colleagues who oppose ObamaCare as “Racists”.

You see, I’ve never trusted her either.
Now, for the record, I’m white and I oppose ObamaCare but, not because I’m a “Racist”. I’ve always believed in limited government and ObamaCare exemplifies Big Government at its worst.

Under ObamaCare, a Doctor will need to consult with a Nurse (Case Manager) to get you admitted into the hospital. How does that make sense? No disrespect to Nurses but, isn’t it logical that a Doctor knows more about how to treat your affliction than a nurse?
Under ObamaCare, President Obama is attempting to increase the annual budget of the IRS by $1 Billion dollars to hire 6,000 new IRS agents. These IRS agents will be allegedly investigating business tax returns to ensure that businesses that are mandated to furnish their employees with health insurance. Or will they be investigating Tea Party Groups and why is the IRS, a tax collector, involved in program administration anyway?

I could keep going but, I think you get the point. I don’t care that President Obama is Black. He could be Green or any other color in the Crayola Box and I would still oppose ObamaCare.
Like I said, I’m not a “Racist”. But, I bet if someone reads this to Senator Karen Carter Peterson, who also happens to be the Chairwoman of the Louisiana Democratic Party, she would think so.

In her own words, here is Senator Peterson or Senator Carter Peterson – see, you don’t know what to call her:
PETERSON: It shouldn’t be about this administration at the state level, nor should it be about the federal administration when it comes to ObamaCare, but in fact it is. And why is that? Why is that? I have talked to so many members, both in the House and the Senate, and you know what? You ready? What it comes down to? It’s not about how many federal dollars we can receive. It’s not about that. You ready? It’s about race. No, nobody wants to talk about that. It’s about the race of this African American president, because this same thing has been offered by former Speaker Newt Gingrich in the past. Yeah, he had a similar bill to what Obama, President Obama has offered. Similar legislation was offered. It comes down to the race of the President of the United States, which causes people to disconnect and step away from the substance of the bill.

Sorry KCP, my opposition to ObamaCare isn’t about race; it’s not about Federal Dollars; not about Medicaid percentages either. No, for this White guy, it’s about Big Government and you can call me all the names that you want but, that’s enough of a reason for me.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Breaking News In The 24th JDC - Bennetti, CFBK vs. City of Kenner and Mike Yenni

We told you that there would be an announcement today and, while I'm sure many of you thought that I would be announcing my candidacy for some elected office, this isn't "that announcement". Sorry if that is what you thought and I don't mean to disappoint you but hey, there's no rule that says you can't make two announcements in the same day and the day is still young...

--------------------------------------------------------------
Press Release

For Immediate Release
05/28/2013
 
Civic Activist, Citizens Group File Lawsuit Against The City of Kenner

And Mayor Mike Yenni To Stop Bond Debt Sale

Walt Bennetti, a resident of Kenner, individually and in his position as President of Citizens For a Better Kenner, filed a lawsuit in the 24th JDC to stop the City of Kenner from implementing plans to issue $47 Million in new debt through the sale of bonds.

The lawsuit names The City of Kenner, Kenner Mayor Mike Yenni and the Kenner City Council as defendants. Mayor Yenni proposed the debt issuance to fund beautification and aesthetic projects and the Kenner City Council approved an ordinance by a 6-1 vote approving the debt issuance.

The suit contends that “Approving an ordinance which obligates tax payers to repay bonds (both refinanced debt and new money borrowed) cannot be done by a vote of the Council. In fact, the Kenner City Charter specifically states in Section 6.12 that all proposals for the issuance of revenue bonds must be approved by a majority vote of the qualified electors of the City voting in a referendum called for such purpose.”

“The Council and Yenni have violated our Kenner City Charter by failing to bring this matter to a vote of qualified electors, opting instead to borrow millions of dollars that the tax payers will ultimately have to pay back without giving us a voice in the decision as the Charter obligates them to do.”

At Kenner City Council meetings and at the State Bond Commission meeting that also voted on the debt issuance, Bennetti repeatedly asserted that the people of Kenner had the right to determine whether or not debt was issued and that a voter referendum was necessary.

“This lawsuit isn’t about Mayor Yenni’s 2030 Plan, beautification or Kenner not moving forward,” Bennetti said. “This lawsuit is about preserving the people’s voice and their Charter-mandated right to inclusion in the process.”

“The Charter gives the people of Kenner the right to a voter referendum to decide whether or not they want to issue new debt and hamstring Kenner’s finances, future Mayors and Councilmembers for the next 20 years. Mayor Yenni and a handful of elected officials are not entitled to take that right away from the people.”

“The repayment of these bonds will tie-up millions of tax dollars and cost taxpayers over $17 Million in interest alone. Those dollars could be used for Police and Fire Protection, infrastructure or other projects that Kenner residents might deem more vital than beautification and interest payments.”

“In addition, the City and Mayor Yenni have not exhausted every available funding source before attempting to issue more debt. There are other options available besides attempting to double property taxes or increasing the city’s debt by 34%.”

The lawsuit requests that injunctions, both preliminary and permanent, are issued ordering the defendants to cease and desist in their efforts to enforce City of Kenner Ordinance Number 10.572 which approved the debt issuance and seeks to invalidate that ordinance. The suit also asks that, before the Council approves a new ordinance authorizing the issuance of debt, that a voter referendum occur.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

No Politics – Just Musings About Life

It’s a holiday weekend so we’re going to take a break from our usual political and issue commentary to lighten things up a bit. If your life revolves around politics, and this short intermission ruins your weekend, I’m sorry but, you really need to get a life.

Besides, we’re going to have a MAJOR announcement on Tuesday morning that will raise the blood pressure of some elected officials.
Today (Saturday) has actually been a very unique day. While all days are unique, today was even more unique. I realize that I’m mixing metaphors but you get my drift.

The day started very early for me, particularly for a Saturday. Since I had no inclination to do any real work, I got on the computer and opened up Facebook.
As a business, I would never invest in Facebook. Its ads are intrusive and don’t generate results for advertisers and its users are extremely resistant to change. How it could be valued at $60 or 80 Billion is mind-boggling to me. As a community however, I marvel at Facebook.

Each time that I look at the amount of “Friends” that I have on Facebook, I chuckle to myself. No, I don’t lol and, in fact, I’ve never typed lol until just now.
At the moment on Facebook, I have 1,001 “Friends”. Not as many as some people; a few more than some others.

In real life, I have about 5 friends. This fact was never more apparent than when I ran for public office (thankfully, I did get a few more than 5 votes).
This morning I saw a clever post on Facebook about people’s “Relationship Status”. I commented on the post that when I signed on to Facebook, I picked “It’s Complicated” to reflect my “Relationship Status”. After too many questions, at some point I changed that “Relationship Status”.

I mentioned that I would add “Check My Relationship Status” to my list of to-do items for this holiday weekend.
A friend (at least I think we’re friends), posted that my “Relationship Status” was listed as “In a Relationship.”  

I responded that I was glad to know that and glad that Facebook didn’t tell the world that my “Relationship Status” was “Married”. That “Relationship Status” option ended for me about 25 years ago, or about the time that Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg was exiting diapers.
I guess that it’s a sign that I am getting older (although, perhaps, not wiser) that, one of the most significant relationships a person can have ended for me decades before I was lucky enough for Facebook to grant me 1,001 friends.

The questions are, why is my “Relationship Status” any of Facebook’s business, why can anyone learn my “Relationship Status” anyway and why would anyone care?

I’m not try to sound coy but, in this day and age when I can’t go buy groceries at Wal-Mart or put gas in my car at a convenience store without someone stopping me to have a conversation (usually either about politics or my leg - sometimes, both), we might be more involved in other people’s lives than is good for our own wellbeing.
Now, these people stopping me mean well and, don’t get me wrong, they’re all fine people but, there are or should be limits.  

I know that was a concept that I had to learn quickly when I moved to Louisiana. People here love to visit. More than any place that I’ve lived, people in Louisiana love to know your business and they aren’t shy about telling you their business either, whether you want to know it or not.
As I said, maybe it’s the “Facebook Generation” or “GenX or GenY”, or it might just be that I’m getting older but I don’t need to read a status update from one of my 1,001 “Friends” telling me and hundreds (thousands) of other people what they are watching on Television or what they had for dinner.

Now, if one, or even one hundred, of my 1,001 “Friends” wants to buy me dinner, that’s another story and I’m all ears. They can even pick the restaurant.
If you’re one of my “real” friends, you already know my relationship status. If you don’t know, and you’re curious, just ask me. You don’t need to go to my Facebook page.

Besides, I’m going to keep changing it just to give people something else to talk about.
Another of life’s little questions that I was also mulling this morning involves the differences between men and women regarding clothes.

The majority of the women that I’ve known in my life, whether it is my mother, my ex-wife, other women that I’ve dated or lived with and even women who are strictly platonic friends, want to influence the clothes that I wear.
This morning, I went to Tanger Factory Outlet Mall in Gonzales to return some clothes. My mom and stepdad were in Baton Rouge about 10 days ago looking at property in Ascension and Livingston Parishes. Why there and not in Jefferson Parish? Because I want to spare my mother from the abuse (that is “hatred”) that I receive from some JP and Kenner elected officials who, for some unknown reason, don’t particularly care for some of the things that I say and write.

Knowing my mom, if she heard what these folks say to and about me – directly or indirectly, she would immediately go on the warpath to defend her only child and probably open a can of Whupp Ass on some of my critics.
Anyway, while she was here, my mom went to Tanger and bought some shirts for me at a store called J. Crew.

Now, again, it might be a sign of my increasing age or my complete lack of hipness, but I’ve never shopped in J. Crew. Don’t own a stitch of clothing from there (that I know of) and had no idea what kind of products J. Crew even sold. In fact, I don’t even know if J. Crew is a person or just a name conjured up on Madison Avenue.
Thankfully for me, the shirts were legitimately the wrong size and needed to be exchanged. Otherwise, I might have been forced to actually wear them, at least around my mom.

So, I went to Tanger and J. Crew this morning with a friend to return and, hopefully, exchange the shirts.
As we walked into J. Crew I suddenly realized that I was the oldest person in the store, in most cases, by a factor of 2. While my shopping companion today is younger than I sadly, not by the same factor of 2 that the customers and employees of J. Crew were.  

After viewing the rainbow of possibilities in the shirt and short section (and immediately dismissing 98% of the possible colors), I made some selections.
It was then that my friend and shopping companion (yes, a female), decided to “influence” my choices and change my selections.

After listening to her discuss and debate the merits of stripes versus solids (I normally opt for solids or small stripes; she prefers large stripes) and which shirt colors complimented my eyes, she made her selections: a blue/green stripped polo shirt, a rust colored polo, and a pair of blue shorts (And not just any blue either. These shorts were “slate” or “smoke” or “French Blue” or something else beginning with an “s”. To me, they were a just weird shade of blue.).
Needless to say, none of her choices made the final cut. If I wasn't present, I might be scheming to find a way to not fit into a pair of weird blue shorts.

But it did get me thinking about men and women and our clothes.
As I said, women always buy me clothes. They are always trying to tinker with my “style”, to change my style and make me trendier and hipper. Of course, that is easier said than done.

Unfortunately for them, I like the way that I dress. On most days, I match and that’s a plus for me.
On the other hand, I never buy women clothes. It’s against my religion.

Flowers – all the time. I know florists, licensed and unlicensed, personally.
Jewelry – often. In fact, I get personalized Birthday and Christmas Cards for Laurie and Robert Ramsey of Ramsey's Diamond Jewelers.

Lingerie – of course (but that’s as much of a present for me as it is for them). We're not going to discuss my forays into Victoria's Secret but, let's just say that I could qualify for the "Employee's Discount" and leave it at that.

But Clothes – not a chance.
In fact, I’m not even comfortable when a woman asks me “How does this look on me?” How can you possibly answer that question correctly?

Normally, before it’s even asked, I just jump right out and say, “You look fantastic!” That usually saves me, at least temporarily.
I would never think to attempt to impose my personal clothing style on a woman. That’s blasphemy. In fact, I love the way a woman dresses herself. I love considering their personal style and why they chose that dress, skirt, top or shoes for that occasion. What accessories go with this or that outfit and why they chose this purse over that purse.

Women’s clothing fascinates me – to a point. But, imposing my style on or offering clothing suggestions to a woman – not in this lifetime.
For now I’ve learned to just listen while a woman debates the merits of a particular outfit and, before I’m prompted, exclaim “You look fantastic (incredible or another fine adjective)!”  

Now, I do know men who have impeccable taste when it comes to women’s clothes – both on themselves and on real women.
Fortunately, I’m not in either of those categories.

And that’s as good a place as any to stop and wish everyone a safe and happy Memorial Day Weekend!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

False Arguments, Misinformation Reign in JP Hospital Debate

“If you push a negative hard enough, it will push through and become a positive.”
-          Saul Alinsky, “Rules For Radicals”

There was a lot of feedback to my post on Monday regarding the Jefferson Parish Hospital Privatization deal championed by JP Sheriff Newell Normand. I heard from elected officials and members of the general public who have no vested interest in the potential lease of East Jefferson General Hospital (EJ) and West Jefferson Medical Center (WJMC), other than their desire for community healthcare.
The feedback was polarized: Officials want the privatization because they contend the hospitals cannot continue to survive on their own; the public thinks they are being hoodwinked and left out of the process. Obviously, I'm on the side of the public.

Even with the Public Meetings that are emceed by Sheriff Normand and WJMC’s highly compensated CEO Nancy Cassagne, the false arguments and misinformation continue.
Yesterday, in a Baton Rouge meeting, I heard Jefferson Parish President John Young continue to evoke the standard talking points parroted at every opportunity by Normand, Cassagne and others:

-        " Even if they were combined, which they are legally not allowed to, EJ and WJMC wouldn’t be able to survive."

-       "If  there were to be a public vote on the lease of the hospitals, the losing group(s) would advertise and impact the vote to hurt the winning bidder."

-         "If we don’t do something now, the hospitals will be forced to close soon."

With all due respect to President Young, those arguments are

-          False

-          False

      -          And, False

Let’s take them in order.

The Financial Viability of the Hospitals
If EJ and WJMC were allowed to combine, that would put both hospitals in a better competitive position and allow even more resources to go toward providing a greater level of specialized care for Jefferson Parish Residents.

The two hospitals could reduce administrative costs, have additional purchasing power to lower overhead, and share more resources.
Currently, the hospitals are only allowed by law to share some minor back office functions and are also geographically protected.

So, why don’t we change those laws?
Why not take steps to combine the two and allow the hospitals to continue to serve the community while also allowing them to grow? Why not try that FIRST before signing a 30-year lease and giving away the use of two of Jefferson Parish’s prime assets and healthcare delivery systems?
 

To Vote Or Not To Vote, That Is The Question
While it might be true that a competitor could advertise and potentially sabotage a vote, that isn’t the issue.

You see, the public should not vote on THE lease; it should be allowed to vote on A lease.
No member of the public that I’ve spoken with wants to vote and rate whether Ochsner’s deal is better than Children’s or HCA’s. But, they do think they should have the right to vote on whether EJ and WJMC are leased at all.

The officials proposing the changing of the state law to take the public out of the equation have framed the question improperly.  EJ and WJMC are OUR HOSPITALS, not theirs and the fact that Sheriff Normand and Ms. Cassagne, who combined had no prior medical administration experience before Sheriff Normand was added to the EJ Board and Cassagne was named WJMC CEO, just muddy the waters and lead to even more scrutiny by the public of their flawed decision making.
Sheriff Normand’s tenure on the EJ Board predates his time as Sheriff. Clearly, someone who has been the EJ Board for more than 15 years should claim some responsibility for EJ’s ills.

And, Ms. Cassagne’s overly generous salary and lack of hospital experience give her ZERO credibility to make a decision that would influence the future of healthcare in Jefferson Parish.
Anytime you remove the public from having a voice in major decisions affecting the community, it’s wrong and President Young knows this. Normand and Cassagne know it too, they just don’t care.


 The Immediacy Trap
I’ve lived in Jefferson Parish for over 12 years. When I moved to JP, every time it would rain, Clearview Parkway in Elmwood, and streets across Jefferson Parish would flood. It’s automatic. If you live in JP, you know what streets to avoid if it rains.

12 years later, Elmwood still floods and every time it does or another street in JP floods, an elected official always goes on the radio or television and says, “Well, we had 2 inches of rain the first hour and the pumps aren’t designed to handle that amount of high-intensity/short-duration rain.”
If I had a Nickel for every time I heard the words, “high-intensity/short-duration rain”, well…I wouldn’t be writing a blog now would I?

My point is that the wheels of government turn incredibly slow on some issues yet, with the hospital deals the public is fed the line “If we don’t do something NOW, the hospitals will fail.”
Now they’ve added the line that “If we don’t lease the hospitals, we’ll need another property tax to support them.”

First, neither hospital is in dire financial straits. Sure, they lost money last year – I would bet that almost every hospital in America lost money last year. EJ and WJMC aren’t anomalies, they are the norm.
In addition, since I’ve lived here, the hospitals have never required additional public support.

Second, if the hospitals did require a property tax (and that is certainly also open to debate since JP Government at all levels could be cut to offset any financial loss from the hospitals), so what? We already pay millages for recreation, law enforcement, water, sewerage, education and everything else under the sun.
In their talking points, officials claim that EJ “lost” about $11 Million last year while WJMC lost about $4 Million.

When it is ever completed, if it is ever completed, the JP Council has authorized a $1 Million per year subsidy for SMG to “manage” the Jefferson Performing Arts Center. Do you mean to say that, if pushed by the public, JP Government couldn’t find $10 Million in the budget somewhere to pay for healthcare? I would personally volunteer my time to help them find items for them to cut (of course, I’m sure they don’t want my opinion).
How much could the hospitals save if they merged, shared resources and reduced costs?

Why aren’t we (the public) given those numbers so we can make an educated decision about the future of healthcare in our parish? Why are the elected officials working so hard to go around us instead of educating us? Why is our right to vote and have a say in our future being taken away from us by Sheriff Normand and a handful of legislators in Baton Rouge?
I know what Normand, Cassagne and their paid consultants think – I want to know what the options are.

From what I’ve heard, you do too.
Now, who has a Nickel - it's starting to rain.    

Monday, May 20, 2013

Hospital Deal Bad For JP Residents

You know, it seems like every time Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand gets involved in something that isn’t law enforcement-related, he believes that he knows more than the people of Jefferson Parish.

Whether it was the contrived call for service statistics he manipulated in the days and weeks prior to the Fat City Rezoning Ordinance to his current machinations to get a 20-year-old law changed so he can decide, instead of letting you decide, whether East Jefferson General Hospital (EJGH) and West Jefferson Medical Center (WJMC) should be allowed to be leased to a private company.
I can’t understand why Sheriff Normand continues to get involved in public policy. Why does he care about how far a building is set back in Fat City or, now, if the Parish’s two publicly owned hospitals are facing potential financial issues due to the impending Affordable Healthcare Act (aka ObamaCare)? What does either of those things have to do with fighting crime?

Of course, we could also ask what in the background of West Jeff’s CEO Nancy Cassagne qualifies her to make healthcare administrative decisions too. Before landing at West Jeff, Cassagne was the Chief Administrative Assistant to now incarcerated former Parish President Aaron Broussard and prior to that she was the Parish’s Finance Director. An accountant by trade, Cassagne had no hospital administrative experience prior to her being drafted to become CEO at WJMC.
Did I mention that Cassagne is the sister-in-law of disgraced former Parish Attorney Tom Wilkinson?

In addition to her lack of hospital administrative experience, Cassagne’s salary of $400k/year, is equally obscene.
In fact, Cassagne earns more than the Parish President AND the Sheriff combined, a point that I’m sure grates on Normand’s nerves, and his ego.

So, now we have the Sheriff (who also happens to be the Chairman of the EJGH Board) and the CEO of WJMC teaming up and pulling a Mike Yenni and seeking public support for their grand plan to lease (ie., giveaway) two of Jefferson Parish’s prime assets.
What Normand and Cassagne aren’t telling you is, just like Kenner Mayor Yenni who held public meetings AFTER he took several steps in his plan to pass a the largest debt program in Kenner’s history without a voter referendum, they really don’t care what you think. It’s a done deal.

House Bill 383, authored by Metairie State Rep. Joe Lopinto, which takes away your right to approve a lease of the hospitals, sailed through the House and is now waiting on the Senate.
In the Senate, the bill is being championed by Senators John Alario (West Bank) and Danny Martiny (East Bank). Martiny is a long-time ally of Normand.

I don’t think it will have a problem being approved by the Senate.
Our esteemed elected officials in Jefferson Parish all contend that, if there was a public vote, it would be tainted by outside interests that might want in on the deal.

The reality is, they don’t want you to vote on it because they realize that a public vote wouldn’t be in their favor. If you can’t win, change the rules, right Sheriff Normand?
Now, some of you may be saying to yourselves, “Governor Jindal is privatizing LSU’s hospitals. Isn’t this the same thing?”

While the concept is the same, the rest of the story is completely different.
The LSU Charity Hospital System relies on Medicare and Medicaid payments. Their percentage of private insured patients is in the single digits.

EJGH and WJMC also have a large amount of Medicare and Medicaid patients, but the number is between 60-70%. Medicare and Medicaid admittedly pay less than private insurance but, they still pay. It’s not like either hospital is sending out collection agents for Uncle Sam.
For the privatization of LSU’s Charity Hospital System, Governor Jindal and his staff estimated that it would cost the state (you) $626 Million in severance, vacation and other personnel costs, and vendor contracts. That’s $626 Million to privatize 8 of the 10 hospitals in the system.

Before a legislative committee, the Governor’s staff said they kind of underestimated the cost a little. It seems that the cost for privatizing just 3 of the 8 proposed hospitals will cost taxpayers $589 Million or 94% of what was budgeted.
How much will it cost Jefferson Parish taxpayers to privatize our two hospitals? Normand and Cassagne won’t tell you that but they will tell you that EJGH “lost” $11 Million last year and WJMC "lost" about $4 Million.

Realistically, those losses are a drop in the bucket. WJMC alone has a $16-18 Million capital projects budget and, of course, if the hospital is facing financial difficulty, Cassagne could cut her own pay - although we all know that will never happen.
So, what do JP taxpayers get for handing over these two valuable assets?

We’ll get lease payments that are supposed to be dedicated to healthcare.
Healthcare? Why dedicate the funds to healthcare if the Parish doesn’t control the operations of the hospitals? What will it spend the lease payments on and how long do you think it will take Jefferson Parish politicians to get their hands on that slush fund?

Of course, since another company will be leasing the facilities, we taxpayers will still own the equipment, the beds and the plastic bed pans.
The reality is, the lease payments will probably be spent on the same personnel costs that are driving the cost of the state’s privatization plan through the roof.

Louisiana Children’s Medical Center is rumored to be the main contender to lease both EJGH and WJMC. Children’s is also in the process of taking over the LSU Interim Public Hospital in New Orleans, along with its associated clinics and will take over the new Mid-City hospital when it is completed.
Wouldn’t it be prudent for Jefferson Parish officials to monitor the state’s attempt at privatization before diving in head first and signing a 30-year lease and giving away two primary healthcare facilities?

Of course, it might also be prudent for the Sheriff of the state’s 2nd most populous parish to spend 100% of his time focused on law enforcement but then, I also believe in term-limits (another thing Sherff Normand and I obviously disagree on).  
But how can another company come in and operate EJGH and WJMC at such a high level that they can turn around the losses, deal with the impending ObamaCare rules, and still make significant annual lease payments?

Are their hospital administrators and board members smarter or more experienced than ours?
I’ll leave that up to you to answer.

I think you already know what I think.
Of course, it really doesn’t matter to Sheriff Normand what we think – we’re just taxpayers.

Disappointment From Baton Rouge; Gov. Jindal "Influencing" Virginia; and The Dalai Lama - Only In Louisiana

This morning, I was a guest on "The Ken & Bernie Show" with Ken Romero and Bernadette Lee on KPEL 96.5fm in Acadiana. We talked about my disappointment in the State Legislative Session; Governor Jindal's visit to Virginia; and The Dalai Lama trying his hand at second-lining. Only in Louisiana. If you missed it, and shame on you, you can hear the interview here.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Someone Give Him A Cookie: Mayor Yenni Reduces Auto Allowances For Political Appointees

The most interesting thing about Monday’s City of Kenner budget hearings was Mayor Mike Yenni’s proposal to reduce the overly-generous auto allowances he gives to his political appointees and move that money to pay for a program to recycle.

It was just last year that Yenni was challenged by the City Council to put up an ordinance to end years of illegal auto and cell phone payments.
After the omnipotent City Attorney claimed they were “reimbursements” and didn’t need Council approval,  the Yenni Administration reversed course, called them undocumented allowances and then talked the City Council into calling them what they really were, extra compensation.

Several Council members publicly gushed about how hard the Directors in Kenner worked and how they were always on call, in a vain attempt to justify to the public the $400 per month auto allowances and $150 per month cell phone payments.
If you are reading this and you have a $150 a month cell phone plan, please call me. I have some slightly used toll booths from the Crescent City Connection to sell you.

Now, after fighting vigorously and defending the needs of his political appointees, Mayor Yenni has now deemed the high auto allowances are really not as necessary as he claimed just one year ago.
How will the highly paid City of Kenner Directors make it financially without receiving all of their little monthly bonuses? Will they need to file for Bankruptcy as at least one City Department Head has or will they need to moonlight like our previously mentioned omnipotent City Attorney?

Now, before the good folks at 1801 Williams Blvd. jump up and down and claim that I’m bashing Mayor Yenni let me state for the record that I’m a fan of recycling. Always have been. I applaud Mayor Yenni for expanding the recycling program.
But, what I’m not a fan of is the way Mayor Yenni does things.

First, the auto and cell phone allowances (now deemed compensation) should never have been given. Forgive me if I believe that, if you earn $60,000  - 100,000 per year or more, you should be able to afford $5 a month in gas to drive to and from work. Kenner is 11 square miles. We’re not talking about commuting to Baton Rouge daily.
Second, since they are compensation, and these same Political Appointees also received a 3% raise last year, these allowances just compounded that raise.

Third, again, since they are compensation, why weren’t they added to the recipient’s salary on the budget? Could it be that Mayor Yenni doesn’t really want you to know that the Finance Director earns over $101,000 per year PLUS an additional $4,800 as an auto allowance AND $1,800 as a cell phone allowance? While it doesn’t look good that the Finance Director for a city the size of Kenner earns $101,000+, it looks a whole lot worse if it showed that the Finance Director earned $107,949 plus benefits.
And what about our omnipotent, moon-lighting City Attorney? He earns $88,326 according to the budget. Of course, adding in the $4,800 auto allowance and $1,800 cell phone allowance bumps that up to $94,926 a year. Sounds like a full-time job to me. He must have boundless energy to take on personal injury cases and rustle up business for his other employer, Mayor Yenni’s friend and political contributor.

Is it any wonder that they can’t afford a tank of gas to drive from their house to their offices on Williams Blvd. on the paltry wages that the City of Kenner pays?
There’s also the question of whether it is even legal for Mayor Yenni to reduce the auto allowances. I’m sure though that Yenni wouldn’t make a move without consulting the omnipotent City Attorney. However, since the allowances were spelled out by a council ordinance, it would seem logical that they could only be reduced by a council ordinance, right?

But, let’s get back to recycling.
In December of 2011, Mayor Yenni unilaterally extended the city’s contract with Ramelli for garbage pickup for another five years. The Mayor didn’t put the contract out for bid, didn’t seek input from the council or the public, he just did it.

Not only did he extend the contract without council input, he didn’t even bother to tell the council until he was asked about it 6 months later when the contract was due to expire.
Had Mayor Yenni been a little proactive and put some thought into the contract renewal and the negotiations, perhaps he could have had Ramelli include recycling in their bid. After all, the more recycling that is done, the less Ramelli will need to pick up from people’s homes, right? That should reduce Ramelli’s costs and allow them to provide the recycling service for free or a significantly reduced cost.

According to Councilman Joe Stagni, the City of Slidell receives garbage pickup and recycling for a lower rate than the City of Kenner. Slidell’s lower rate and better service might be because they put their contract out for bid and sought competition.  
In an article on Nola.com, Mayor Yenni said, “It’s an additional service, and we’re not going to the taxpayers and asking them to pay for it.”

So, I guess that means that, since Ramelli will be picking up a lot less garbage due to recycling, our trash bills in Kenner will be reduced accordingly.
I’m sure that’s wishful thinking on my part. Of course, I’m still waiting for my new Ramelli trash can that was promised to all Kenner residents when Ramelli signed the original contract 6 years ago.

Until that day comes, my trusty old Waste Management trash bin, in use since before I heard the words "Hurricane Katrina",  will have to do.
Of course, when your friend is the Mayor, it doesn't matter what contracts say or what you promised to get that contract. As long as you're a FOM (Friend of Mike), you're set in YenniVille.
And, only in YenniVille can you claim that something is so vital to employee retention and morale one day and then reduce it later without a council ordinance because you want to use the money for something else.
But I guess when you’re the Mayor of YenniVille, you can make stuff up as you go along and hope that nobody notices. Or that the Council doesn’t put it up for a voter referendum.

Can’t have the Mayor of YenniVille continue coming out on the losing end of voter referendums, now can we?

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Knucklehead Thugs In NOLA; Confusion on the State Budget and More

Yesterday, I was a guest on "The Ken & Bernie Show" with Ken Romero and Bernadette Lee on KPEL 96.5fm in Lafayette. We spoke about the New Orleans Mother's Day shooting, the state budget compromise and the legislature. If you missed it, or if you're a masochist and want to listen to it again, here's a link.

Monday, May 13, 2013

2nd Republican Enters Race For Landrieu’s Seat

Another Republican contender has announced that he is seeking the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Mary Landrieu.

Rob Maness, a Retired U.S. Air Force Colonel, has thrown his hat in the ring against Landrieu, who is seeking re-election, and the already announced Congressman Bill Cassidy (R-Baton Rouge).

Maness is a Constitutional Conservative and was an Operations Officer for the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon during 9/11. For his military service, he was awarded the Bronze Star and Air Medal.

Maness is stressing several issues which he feels differentiate himself from Cassidy and Landrieu including:

-          Protecting and Defending Individual Liberty and Constitutional Rights

-          Protecting 2nd Amendment Rights

-          Immigration Reform and Border Security

-          Energy Independence

-          Education Reform and eliminating Common Core standards

-          Repealing the Obama/Landrieu Government Healthcare Takeover

Maness and his wife Candy are residents of Madisonville.

To find out more about Rob Maness, please visit http://www.robmaness.com

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Kenner Fire Chief Hellmers Loses Appeal; Must Repay City

Last May, I wrote about Kenner Fire Chief John Hellmers receiving Supplemental Educational Compensation from the City of Kenner while not possessing the required certifications.

The City of Kenner undertook an Internal Investigation and agreed that Hellmers was improperly receiving extra money that he wasn’t entitled to.
On September 26th, Kenner Mayor Mike Yenni sent Hellmers a letter stating that he needed to repay the City $2,950 and that Hellmers was suspended for 3 days without pay.

Hellmers’ appealed the decision to the Civil Service Board claiming that the investigation into this transgression took longer than 60-days, thus voiding any punishment.
The Civil Service Board dropped the suspension but reiterated the City’s claim on repayment.

Rather than pay the restitution gracefully, Hellmers, who earns over $102,000 in base salary alone, decided to appeal to the 24th JDC.
24th JDC Division A Judge Ray Steib agreed with the Civil Service Board and told Hellmers to pay up.

Judge Steib also dismissed Hellmers’ claim to dismiss the proceedings entirely due to his claim of negligence on Mayor Yenni’s part for not imposing punishment within the 60-day window.
Unfortunately for Kenner residents, the Attorney representing the City didn’t seek repayment of his costs from Hellmers, leaving taxpayers on the dole for thousands more in legal fees from Hellmers’ appeals.

So, not only did the Kenner Fire Chief get an interest-free loan from taxpayers that he didn’t deserve, we’re also on the hook for more money in legal fees.
Only in YenniVille.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Tension, Finger Pointing, Not A Lot Of Answers At JP Council Meeting

There was an old TV ad for Clairol women’s hair coloring that showed a beautiful woman and, referring to her hair color, asked the provocative question: “Does she or doesn’t she?” While they were asking if the woman artificially colored her hair, the question still made you wonder.

Leading up to yesterday’s “Emergency” Jefferson Parish Council meeting regarding the failure of two property taxes last week, the question in Jefferson Parish was: Will they or won’t they?
Would the Council vote to put the taxes back on the ballot in time for the next round of tax bills at the old rate or the new rolled-back rate or would they just hold off until next year and make Parish President John Young figure out how to fill a $19 Million hole?

I guess it couldn’t have been too much of an “Emergency” because we’re still waiting for an answer.
But, we do know what an “Emergency” is.

In fact, we may be hearing that word more in the very near future.
But, the two hours of finger pointing, ganging up on President Young or “fact finding” as Councilman Chris Roberts called it, was interesting to say the least.

If you don’t have time to watch the Council replay and want a blow-by-blow of the meeting, Nola.com’s Manuel Torres did a great job providing the Reader’s Digest version with live updates from the meeting.
Councilman Roberts, a frequent critic of President Young and an ardent supporter of the CCC toll extension, questioned if the Young Administration had made any presentations to civic associations to get their support for the taxes.

"The feedback I'm getting from the business community and civic associations is that they were in the dark," Roberts said.
Of course, Roberts failed to mention that, since he supported the CCC toll, he was a virtual ghost in the months leading up to the May 4th vote. While I am not intimately involved with Councilman Roberts’ schedule, I don’t recall hearing him do any radio or TV interviews or speaking to groups telling voters to approve the taxes and of their importance to JP operations.

Roberts also voted to put the “expired” taxes on the ballot, along with the rest of the Council.
So, for him to question why the Young Administration put them on the ballot late or how much effort they spent selling the taxes to voters is a pretty dubious argument.

They say that if you say something often enough, even if it’s not true, you start to believe it and you get others to believe it too.
That was the takeaway from this Council meeting. Keep saying that the Young Administration, and only the Young Administration, botched this and keep deflecting blame and not accepting responsibility.

Appearing for the Prosecution: Councilman Roberts, Assessor Tom Capella and Sheriff Newell Normand, aka “The Usual Suspects”.
Now, to be sure, if the taxes expired in December 2012, clearly they should have been on the ballot last year despite JP’s tradition of renewing property taxes after they technically expired but before the next tax cycle.

"There's somebody in parish government that ought to know when these things are coming up for renewal," Councilman Roberts said.
And he’s right. Of course he also failed to mention that the Council (which voted to put these taxes on the ballot), Assessor Capella and Sheriff Normand also should know when taxes are up for renewal.  If you’re assessing property taxes as Capella does, and collecting them, as Normand does, it might be a good idea if you knew what you were assessing and collecting too.

Just as clearly, the taxes should have been put on the ballot at their current rate and not at their original, higher rate.
But for Roberts, Capella and Normand, along with the rest of the Council, to put all of the blame on the Young Administration and not accept any responsibility for their roles in this tax debacle stretches the bounds of credibility.

While some Council members grumbled about the negative feelings towards the CCC toll revote impacting voters on these tax propositions, I suspect that Assessor Capella’s last minute letter to homeowners might have had a larger role in the sinking of these taxes than anything.
While it is traditional for most government agencies except the JPSO and Sheriff Newell “I never met a tax that I rolled-back – I need more money for Public Safety” Normand, Capella’s letter rightly pointed out that the property taxes were being renewed at the old rate of 5 mills instead of the rolled-back rate of 3.58 and 3.54 mills.

Theoretically, if the Council didn’t roll-back the taxes as they have always done (and Capella did when he was on the JP Council), this could have resulted in a tax increase for property owners.
Could that have been made clearer in the “selling” of the taxes? Sure and the language on the ballot could have also been clearer.

But, the Parish Council still approved these taxes. They hired the bond attorney and approved his language for the ballot (on the recommendation of President Young).
I’m also relatively certain that, before it came before the Council, Assessor Capella and Sheriff Normand, the Chief Tax Collector in Jefferson Parish, also reviewed the language and approved it.

Look, for many reasons, the property taxes failed. Rather than continue to play the blame game, why don’t our elected officials provide a solution? There’s clearly enough blame to go around and no JP elected official is covered in enough Teflon to deflect it.
At the moment, there are two viable solutions, as well as a third option proposed by Councilman Roberts. The problem is, the Council is divided and there's no clear-cut support for any of them. In fact, Councilwoman Cynthia Sheng said she needs more time to consider the options.

District 2 Councilman Paul Johnston will seek the Council’s approval to put the taxes back on the ballot at the current rate.
District 3 Councilman Mark Spears will call for an emergency declaration and change the wording to read “up to 5 mills” while promising to keep the rates at 3.58 and 3.54 mills.

Both would put the taxes on the October 19th ballot in time for the next round of property tax bills.
According to the T-P, Councilman Roberts favors punting on the taxes until 2014 and forcing the Young Administration to cut capital projects for water and sewerage. This would also result in Jefferson Parish possibly losing a $35 Million low-interest state loan for sewerage repairs.  

While I always favor cutting government, Councilman Roberts’ proposal is punitive. Hurting the Parish just to hurt President Young won’t help.  
In this era when citizens have a huge mistrust of government, especially in Jefferson Parish, I think Councilman Johnston’s plan makes the most sense and has the greatest possibility of success.

But hey, what do I know? I thought 4th grade finger-pointing went out of style long ago.  

 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Orleans Councilwoman Clarkson’s Shift On CCC Toll Puzzling

The truth is, there really aren’t many politicians that I like and even fewer that I respect. I’ve interviewed them on the radio, written about them, had them try to be friends (as long as I was writing or speaking favorably about them of course). But, I see through them. They are politicians, and that’s not going to change.

I had a very good friend that I knew before he became a politician. Right before my very eyes he changed. He became a politician. In fact, the last time he called me, he screamed at me through the phone and hung up on me. We’re not friends anymore. Perhaps we never really were. 
I’ve always had a soft spot for Orleans Parish Councilwoman Jackie Clarkson.

I don’t know if it’s her maternal ways; if it’s because she could dress me down and smile while she was doing it; or a combination of reasons but I always liked and respected Jackie Clarkson.
Now, we certainly didn’t agree on every issue but Councilwoman Clarkson could give as good as she got. Trust me. Even through a phone line, I have been on the receiving end of Councilwoman Clarkson’s smiling indignation too many times to count.

But, unlike most politicians, Clarkson never ducked. I returned a call from her one day while she was in an Orleans Parish Council meeting. She took the call and said, “Could I please call you back in about a ½ hour?”
And she did call me back.

Several years ago, I was working at a Talk Radio station here in New Orleans filling in for one of their regular hosts. I told the station’s General Manager that I had booked Councilwoman Clarkson for an interview.
“Good luck with that,” the GM said. “She NEVER comes on this station.”

But she did and I interviewed her many times. Sometimes things got a little testy (I mean c’mon. If you’re reading this you already know that things can get testy with me and almost anyone, not just those people who happen to change their name to Yenni). But Councilwoman Clarkson was always courteous and never wouldn’t come on when she said she was scheduled.
In fact, when she was elected as Councilwoman-At-Large in November 2007 in a special election to replace the indicted Oliver Thomas, I was the first radio interview Councilwoman Clarkson did. Not WWL – WALT.

That’s why I’m so surprised by Councilwoman Clarkson’s recent statements about the CCC toll revote.
On Sunday, after the toll extension was crushed by voters in three parishes, Councilwoman Clarkson was on TV looking sad and gloomy like someone had stolen her favorite puppy.

On Fox 8, Councilwoman Clarkson said, “Structural maintenance is my biggest fear.”
"I want the voters to hold the people that represented the no tolls responsible. I want them to hold those political leaders responsible for making sure that bridge is maintained, lighted and policed," Clarkson said.

What?
Not even 12 hours after the polls closed and Clarkson is already talking about bridge maintenance, lighting, and holding political leaders accountable?

Wait, isn’t Jackie Clarkson a “political leader”? Why isn’t she holding herself accountable for decades of mismanagement, waste and abuse?
I sat on my couch watching this piece on TV literally shaking my head.

“Did Jackie Clarkson really say that?” I asked myself.
I needed to go online to watch it again to make sure that I heard her correctly.

But I did.
Back when she was a State Representative serving the people of Algiers, Clarkson had an entirely different take on the CCC toll. In fact, she co-authored a bill that would have stopped the CCC toll in 1999.

That’s right: 1999.
In the 1998 Legislative Session, Clarkson and fellow West Bank State Rep. Steve Windhorst from Terrytown, co-authored House Bill 314 which called for the removal of the CCC toll no later than June 30, 1999.

In a New Orleans Times-Picayune article printed on May 10, 1998, Clarkson was livid at the waste and abuse that DOTD had perpetrated on the West Bank for years.
“I want to be severe. We have tried everything,” Clarkson said. “We collect $20 Million a year in tolls and $14 Million of that goes to fund bureaucracy (at the Department of Transportation and Development) and $6 Million goes to finance roads that should be financed by DOTD’s own money. Why take $20 Million from chronic bridge users from Algiers and Gretna and Terrytown for road projects for DOTD’s feeding frenzy?”

That was 1998. Since then, 24 years have passed with bridge users faithfully passing along $20 Million each year to the slush funds of DOTD and local elected officials for their pet projects.
I’m not a Math expert, but I can use a calculator. That’s $480 Million dollars out of your pockets that now-Councilwoman Clarkson wanted to stop in 1998.

If Councilwoman Clarkson thought it was a good idea to end the toll in 1998, how can it not be an even better idea now? The bridge is paid off. The State Police are providing protection (as they should have been all along) and we’ve had decades of more waste and abuse.
What happened? Why the change from State Rep serving the West Bank to Orleans Parish Politician raining down gloom and doom now that the toll extension was defeated?

Sounds like someone has some explaining to do…
Councilwoman Clarkson – you have the floor. The people of the West Bank are waiting and deserve an answer.

JP Officials Point Fingers Over Failed Tax "Renewals"

The Jefferson Parish Council has called an emergency meeting for Thursday at 10am to discuss the future of two property taxes that were defeated by voters on Saturday.

The taxes would have renewed revenue for another 10 years to fund Water and Sewerage operations and projects.
As is usually the case in Jefferson Parish when there is a controversy in government it’s another case of “He Said/He Said”. Only this time it’s “He Said/They Said”.

Jefferson Parish President John Young contends that, even though the renewals were listed on the ballot at the pre-roll back rates of 5 mills, the taxes would have actually renewed at 3.54 mills for water and 3.58 mills for sewerage.
JP Council Chairman Chris Roberts, Sheriff Newell Normand and Assessor Tom Capella all say that the taxes would have increased to 5 mills generating more revenue for the parish.

They also contend that the taxes also expired on December 31st, 2012.
Other JP officials have complained that the Young Administration did not do enough to educate the public on the taxes.

Despite the fact that the taxes and their language was submitted to the state months ago for placement on the May 4th ballot, Assessor Capella mailed a letter to homeowners last week saying that the renewals would actually be tax increases.
And that may be, if the Parish Council doesn’t roll the tax back as they have done traditionally.

On Tuesday, three days after the taxes failed, Capella also disclosed that the taxes had already expired.
Sheriff Normand was even more critical of the Young Administration.

“I don’t know if there’s any basis in law to declare ‘I’m incompetent and I messed up the tax issue, so give me another bite at the apple.’ In my 36 years of government work, this is the first time I’m aware of that a tax renewal was done after the tax expired.”

But, the question remains, where were Roberts, Normand and Capella when the JP Council voted to put these taxes on the ballot? Didn’t they know that the taxes had expired or that the public could perceive these “renewals” as “renewals at the old rate”?
If they expired last year, why didn’t Roberts, Normand and Capella get the taxes on the ballot a year ago? They were all in their same roles last year, right?
Is it plausible to believe that Sheriff Normand, the chief Tax Collector for Jefferson Parish, Assessor Capella and Councilman Roberts were all unaware that these taxes expired or did the Young Administration just botch the tax “renewals”? How could no Jefferson Parish elected official speak up in the months leading up to the vote and say that there were issues? Were these even “renewals” at all?
Regardless of whether you believe Him (Young) or Them (Roberts, Normand, Capella), there is enough blame on this to spread around.

For the moment though, it’s just typical Jefferson Parish politics where our elected officials point fingers at each other.
Finger pointing wasn’t productive in 4th Grade and it’s not very productive now.

Somebody should tell our elected officials that.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Whoo Hoo! No Tax On Plastic Bags This Year

Monday, a House Committee voted to defer indefinitely two bills by Baton Rouge Democratic State Rep. Regina Barrow to add a $.05 tax to every single use, plastic carry bag in Louisiana.

Rep. Barrow even defined “a single use, plastic carry bag” as “a bag composed primarily of thermoplastic synthetic polymeric material used to carry or transport purchased goods.”
You and I define it as the bag you get when the grocery store clerk says “Paper or Plastic?” and you choose Plastic, or you purchase some snacks at a convenience store.

Obviously Rep. Barrow doesn’t realize that there are more petrochemical plants in Baton Rouge than any other city in the world (ok, I’m exaggerating – but there are a lot of petrochemical plants there).
As I said, Rep. Barrow was not content with authoring one bill, she really wanted a tax on plastic bags so she doubled down with two bills.

It was not clear whether Rep. Barrow expected the Retailers to pay the plastic bag tax (thus increasing the cost of goods to consumers) or if the tax would be added to your bill at checkout time (thus adding the tax directly to the consumer but also adding more paperwork man hours to business owners  and adding even more cost to the goods purchased).
In addition to defining “a single use, plastic carry bag”, House Bill 529 also sought to call for a vote to add the tax as a Constitutional Amendment.

I don’t know about you, but the Louisiana State Constitution is already so screwed up, we don’t need to add more to it.
Barrow’s 2nd bill, the appropriately numbered House Bill 711, was nearly identical to HB 529 except that it would not have added the tax as a Constitutional Amendment but would have created the “Plastic Bag Management Tax Fund”.

And, what would the “Plastic Bag Management Tax Fund” (and, I’m sure, it’s affiliated Board and infrastructure) do?
Thankfully, we’ll never know.

Until next session when I’m sure Rep. Barrow will try again.
And again.

And, maybe she’ll author a third bill too.
It didn’t work twice this year. Maybe three bills in one session could be the charm.

But then again, we could always thwart Rep. Barrow’s plans by just saying “Paper, please.”

Monday, May 6, 2013

Aaron Broussard’s New Number: 2234-034

Over the course of time, I’ve acquired the cell phone numbers of many elected officials. While I rarely use them unless I’m returning a call, that doesn’t stop them from calling me at all hours or on the weekends to voice their opinion about something I’ve said or written.

After Hurricane Katrina, former Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard gave me his cell phone number. I don’t remember why and I really don’t think I used it until sometime in 2007 when I was hosting a radio program on what was then WIST AM 690.
I did a couple of radio interviews with Broussard and then tried to get him back on the radio as he campaigned for re-election. Twice during the campaign, he agreed to come on the radio and then backed out at the last minute.

The second time Broussard failed to appear, I had scheduled all of the candidates running for Parish President to appear in an hour-long debate. About 5 minutes before airtime, I received a phone call that President Broussard was “too sick” to come on the air.
Needless to say, I didn’t ask to have Broussard on the radio again until 2009 when the Tim Whitmer Scandal began unraveling.

Broussard’s secretary wouldn’t let me speak with him. I called his cell phone and he answered. I said, “President Broussard. This is Walt Bennetti,” to which he promptly hung up the phone.
I remember going on the radio in disbelief that someone like Aaron Broussard could not have known what Tim Whitmer was doing right under his nose (of course, that’s before we learned that Broussard was complicit too).

I said, “Either Aaron Broussard is a poor manager; he’s a liar; or he’s an idiot. Or all three.” That line turned into a promo that the radio station ran almost every hour.
We never spoke again and, I was ok with that.

Today, in Butner, North Carolina, a town I have never heard of before, Aaron Broussard got a new number: Inmate 2234-034.
I’m relatively certain that, until recently, Aaron Broussard had never heard of Butner, North Carolina, either.
Broussard reported to the Federal Correctional Complex in Butner to begin his 46-month prison service.
The man who ran Jefferson Parish, was the Mayor of Kenner, and held other political positions during his 30+ years in politics will now be earning between $.12 and $1.15 per hour, depending upon what job he is given.

The man who could walk down the halls of Jefferson Parish Government and tell his political appointees to loan him $5,000 for his campaign, will now earn less than a common sweatshop worker.
And, no matter how you feel about him, that’s sad.

Sad for him. Sad for our parish. Just sad.
And what have we learned since Aaron Broussard resigned? What have we done as a parish to improve our reputation and ensure that the Aaron Broussards still out there can’t rape and pillage our parish again?

Sadly, not much.
Oh sure, there were calls for stricter ethics rules. Several current Jefferson Parish Councilmembers even publicly patted themselves on the back for their “tougher” ethics rules.

Yet, at every Council meeting, members of Citizens For Good Government list the hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions received by Parish Councilmen from businesses seeking parish contracts.
Councilmen spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in other people’s money to get elected.

And, they think we are na├»ve enough to believe it’s because they actually want to serve the people and represent their constituents.
Columnist and Author Thomas Sowell said, "No one will really understand politics until they understand that politicians are not trying to solve our problems. They are trying to solve their own problems — of which getting elected and re-elected are number one and number two. Whatever is number three is far behind."

Jefferson Parish politicians understand this and nobody understood it better than Aaron Broussard, now known as Inmate 2234-034.